After I blew out my knee in 1999, I had two goals posted on my locker throughout my rehab. One was that good things were going to happen to me. The other was this: "No Test-No Testimony."
Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins
Caught career-high 55 passes in 2001
Averaged 16.4 yards per reception 1994-2002
I have a testimony.
God has claimed me as His own, even though I insisted on going my own way, and living without Him.
I knew better.
I attended Liberty University, where I was taught the Word and attended chapel three times a week. I was covered in the things of God. But all the while I was there, I was also living a secret life. Although I never touched drugs or alcohol, I was an addict whose addiction was sexual immorality. In college, I led one life by day and another by night.
By the time I joined the NFL in 1994, I lost all concept of the Christian life. I abandoned everything I had been taught, not only at Liberty University but also during my childhood. I partied hard and chased excitement. I had money and fame, and I used it in an attempt to satisfy myself.
Of course, it didn't work. I was empty. My laughter was hollow. I was partying and playing, but I was dying inside. My career didn't take off as I hoped it would. God had allowed me to experience the consequences of my own destructive choices. I was going through a test, and I was failing.
Then, one day, a teammate confronted me. He recognized the hurt and the void inside of me, and he talked to me about the Lord. He told me I could choose peace and love. And I did. I fell to my knees and asked Jesus to be my Savior. I said, "Take this cup from me. I can't handle it anymore. I want You in control of my life."
I felt a great peace. A weight was lifted. And my life began to change.
I had been living with my fianc?e, and God spoke to me clearly. He wanted me to be the kind of man, the kind of husband, the kind of father that He intended for me to be. So I moved out. I knew it wasn't right. I moved in with a teammate, temporarily, and 8 months later I married the woman I had been living with.
From that time on, God has been blessing me. Oh, He took me through a hard time, a "winter." I lost my sister in a tragedy, I was traded from Seattle to Dallas, and I then blew out my knee.
I wasn't sure I would ever play again. But then I had an outstanding year in 2000. I had worked hard at rehabbing my knee, and God had me in the right place at the right time. I led the Cowboys in receptions and in yardage, even though I played with four different quarterbacks that year. I went from the No. 4 receiver to the No. 1 receiver in the span of a few games. And last year, God blessed me to be one of the leading receivers for the Miami Dolphins.
I have learned the grace of God. I have learned that He receives me and loves me, even through I had wandered from Him, He put His Son through a test-a test on a cross-and from that test came the greatest testimony of all-the testimony of forgiveness and love and peace.
I have learned that real strength comes from Him-not from anything we do ou
rselves. I've learned, as it says in Isaiah, "Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength?they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31). Now I live in fidelity and integrity. There are no more secrets. I've given everything to God, because He's given everything to me.
Taken from Sports Spectrum, a Christian sports magazine. Used by permission. For subscription information call 1-800-283-8333.